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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 February 2008, 16:30 GMT
Spaniards are not racist - Alonso
Renault driver Fernando Alonso
Alonso rejoined Renault last year after a tough season with McLaren
Fernando Alonso has insisted Spain is not a racist country, following the abuse that fellow Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton suffered there.

Hamilton was targeted by spectators while testing in Barcelona in February, but Alonso believes the problem is not as bad as people believe it to be.

"I don't think this is a racist country and the fans aren't either," the Spaniard told Spanish newspaper AS.

"Whoever says there's racism in Spain is talking about isolated cases."

The former world champion added: "The less we talk about what happened 15 days ago, the better, because that's a completely isolated case from someone who was celebrating a carnival.

"I haven't seen any video or recording of the alleged insults."

It was an isolated incident and the FIA or anyone saying that the Spanish fans are racists is laughable.

Fernando Alonso

Widespread condemnation followed the incident at the Circuit de Catalunya, where spectators were seen with blacked-up faces and wearing wigs.

As a result the sport's world governing body, the FIA, will launch an anti-racism campaign at April's Spanish Grand Prix but Alonso believes the move is unnecessary.

"It was an isolated incident and the FIA or anyone saying that the Spanish fans are racists is laughable.

"Last year, they called me a dog in a few races. Niki Lauda said those things about me, and no-one came to me to show me their support."

Meanwhile, the two-time former world champion admits his new Renault team have little hope of challenging for a podium finish at the season's first grand prix in Australia.

He said: "We are pretty far behind. We are not in a position to fight for anything important right now.

"Thinking about a podium would be too optimistic... it is a dream."

But Alonso has been impressed by BMW Sauber's form in the build-up to the new season.

"Everything changes very quickly in Formula One. Two or three weeks ago BMW were a little bit behind, we were close to them. Now they are very close to McLaren," he added.

"They [BMW] are going very fast. They have not shown their cards. They are running with the tank full and are doing very good times."

F1 boss plays down Hamilton abuse
17 Feb 08 |  Formula One
F1 to launch anti-racism campaign
13 Feb 08 |  Formula One
Taunted Hamilton returns to Spain
12 Feb 08 |  Formula One
F1 boss pledges to tackle racists
10 Feb 08 |  Formula One
Circuit acts on Hamilton incident
05 Feb 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton saddened by racist abuse
04 Feb 08 |  Formula One
Renault expect to challenge again
31 Jan 08 |  Motorsport
Alonso puts new Renault to test
21 Jan 08 |  Formula One
Alonso opts for return to Renault
10 Dec 07 |  Formula One


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